Headman demands deceased’s underwear

Villagers attending a funeral in Zaka say they were left shocked and speechless when their headman demanded to be given the deceased’s undergarments.

Headman Phineas Marowa confirmed that he had asked for the pants but added that he also asked for two suits as well.

“Yes I received the items you mentioned but I don’t think there is anything wrong because Demo was my aide and personal friend. I haven’t started putting them on right now but I will soon do that,” Marowa told The Mirror in an interview.

But villagers said what their headman did was a disgraceful act, fuelled by greed. It was taboo in Shona culture for anyone to demand what to get from a de­ceased’s wardrobe and, worse still undergarments.

Chiefs, headmen and kraal heads are known to have become so greedy that they demand meat from beasts slaughtered at funer­als and also cash before burials can take place.

“We were all shocked that soon after the burial and as mourners were preparing to disburse the de­ceased’s clothes, the headman who is the overall in charge immediately demanded that two of the deceased’s suits and undergarments be put aside for him.

“The headman is not even re­lated to us. The only link between him and the deceased is that the deceased, Simplicio Demo was his aide and friend. We were all shocked but what can one do to a headman who is the most powerful person in the area. We still wonder whether he de­manded these things out of greed or he wants to use them for some charm,” said a relative who declined to be named.

Zaka district administrator, Tapison Chivanga said the be­haviour by traditional leaders was abominable and illegal and action against traditional leaders who were extorting the bereaved. He said his office was launching an awareness campaign among the vil­lagers against this practice. He said Marowa will be fired if he had indeed asked for undergarments.

Demo, a former police officer passed on after a long illness at Sil­veira Mission Hospital and was laid to rest last Wednesday.

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